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Herbie Hancock Future2Future Transparent Music TMCD-500112 2001 09 25 The term "electronica" wasn’t in use back in the day of "Rockit," but surely the Herbie Hancock/Bill Laswell team laid a lot of the groundwork for the genre’s emergence. By now, of course, dance music and DJ culture have had a considerable impact on the jazz scene. With Future2Future,Herbie joins the fray, reuniting with Laswell to make his most powerful and relevant music in years. You can trace this music’s creative lineage back all the way to Mwandishi. Although drum-n-bass and turntablist notions predominate, there’s a strong acoustic presence as well — far stronger than at any point during Herbie’s Future Shock period. He plays Rhodes throughout much of the album, and is joined frequently by Wayne Shorter on tenor and soprano, Charnett Moffett on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Remarkably, these leading lights of jazz share space with leading lights of electronica, such as Carl Craig, DJ Rob Swift, A Guy Called Gerald, and Imani Uzuri. Thanks to Laswell’s seamless production, it all hangs together. Two high-profile collaborations stand out: "The Essence," featuring Chaka Khan on vocals, and "Tony Williams," featuring the late drummer. (Sampled? Live, pre-1997? We’re not told in the advance press materials.) ~David R. Adler Tunes: 1. Wisdom 2. Kebero Part I 3. The Essence 4. This Is Rob Swift 5. Black Gravity 6. Tony Williams 7. Ionosphere 8. Alphabeta 9. Be Still 10. Virtual Hornets 11. Kebero Part II Herbie Hancock, all keyboards; Wayne Shorter, tenor and soprano saxophones; Bill Laswell, electric bass; Charnett Moffett, acoustic bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums (4, 8, 9, 10); Tony Williams, drums (6); Karsh Kale, drums (3, 7); guest artists: Elenni Davis-Knight, Carl Craig, GiGi, Chaka Khan, DJ Rob Swift, A Guy Called Gerald, Dana Bryant, Imani Uzuri Listen to samples & Buy CDs/DVDs here
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Herbie Hancock, Future Shock, Sound System, Perfect Machine (1983, 1984, 1988, reissued 2/8/00) Columbia Legacy 550 Madison Ave., 17th Floor New York, NY 10022-3211 Phone: 212-833-4101 (Tom Cording); 212-833-4448 (Randy Haecker) Cyberhome: www.legacyrecordings.com Herbie Hancock's electronic experiments for Columbia are quintessentially 80s, every bit as much as "hair bands" like Poison and Winger. But Hancock's vision, and that of his co-producer Bill Laswell, has stood the test of time in a way that 80s rock most certainly has not. Granted, most of the music on Future Shock, Sound System, and Perfect Machine now sounds hopelessly dated to our digital-age ears - funny how that always happens to yesterday's high-tech breakthrough. However, if you look at today's music scene, particularly the creative stew of turntables, beats, sampling, and other forms of high-tech collage collectively known as electronica, Hancock and Laswell's synthesis of old-school hip-hop and spacey, Eno/Byrne-variety rock comes out looking incredibly prescient. Popular music of the 90s and beyond has taken Herbie's road, not Poison's. At the time, these records represented an ultra-radical departure for Hancock, who arguably remains the most influential acoustic jazz pianist of his generation. That the move caused such dismay in the jazz world is hardly surprising - often repetitive and dull, the albums can be interpreted as a wholesale rejection of jazz aesthetics. But just as Hancock is now searching, with less success, for the "New Standard," here he was searching for the new fusion. While his deliberately robotic new sound didn't make much use of his vast harmonic knowledge and unparalleled improvisational skills, it established him as a pop innovator. "Rockit," the big hit song from Future Shock, appears a second time on the reissue as a bonus remix, spliced with references from other tracks on the album as well as the famous riff from "Chameleon." The remainder of the record is pretty forgettable, but there are nice piano chords anchoring "TFS" and even some tasty single-note lines on "Autodrive." Sound System begins with "Hardrock," a near-shameless attempt at another "Rockit." But on the whole, this second album has more to recommend it: a screaming guitar solo by Henry Kaiser on "Metal Beat" (which also appears as a bonus remix); Wayne Shorter playing lyricon on the hip world music track "Karabali"; and subtle, exotic sounds from Foday Musa Suso's kora on "Junku." Perfect Machine is distinguished by the presence of bassist Bootsy Collins and vocalist Sugarfoot, and the memorable dance tracks "Vibe Alive" and "Beat Wise." The tripped-out treatment of "Maiden Voyage," one of Herbie's classic jazz compositions, is also good for a few kicks. And the mournful ballad "Chemical Residue," the only track out of all three albums written solely by Hancock, offers a brief glimpse into deeper harmonic territory. Some maintain that electronic music has elbowed aside live musicians and ushered in an era of soulless, manufactured music. The argument may hold water in some cases, but the historical move from Lita Ford and Quiet Riot to Moby and the Chemical Brothers, for instance, hardly represents a decline. Resistance to electronic music is often little more than a prejudice. Viewed in the entire context of 80s pop, Herbie Hancock's machine-dominated records pulse with a vibrancy and creativity wholly lacking in the work of many a flesh-and-blood rock-n-roll band. ~David R. Adler
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